Welcome to Tween Talk for Latter-day Saints! This week on Tween Talk, episode 17 is about patriarchal blessings.
Tween Talk Episode #17
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Tween Talk 17 Transcript
Have you ever wondered what makes a patriarchal blessing different than a father’s blessing? Or whether or not you can read someone else’s?
Hey y’all, welcome back!
I know the last several podcasts about the Law of Chastity were pretty heavy. We’re going to switch gears a little bit – well, a lot, actually – and talk about something else today: Patriarchal Blessings.
(Please note that the correct pronunciation is pa-tri-ar-chal, not patri-article!)
A patriarchal blessing is a very special blessing. You only get ONE in your entire lifetime. (exceptions have been known to occur, but they are extremely rare).
A patriarchal blessing has to be given by a Patriarch.
Remember when we talked about the priesthood? One of the offices in the Melchezedik priesthood is that of Patriarch. When a man is ordained as a Patriarch, he holds that office for the REST of his life.
It is usually a stake calling – each stake has one, MAYBE 2 patriarchs, depending on how big the stake is and how many youth there are.
The Stake President may recommend a person to be called as the Stake Patriarch, but the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles direct the calling of stake patriarchs and can authorize a stake president to extend the call and ordain the patriarch.
In that ordination, the patriarch is given the KEYS to be able to give patriarchal blessings.
But before we jump into blessings, we should talk a bit about the WHY of patriarchs and blessings.
Did you know that the scriptures actually talk about three different types of patriarchs?
The first kind of patriarch is the father of a family. His stewardship is his children. He can and should give father’s blessings to his children.
The second kind of patriarch was the word that was used for the prophets in ancient times. Abraham, for example, was commonly referred to as a patriarch. Adam was the patriarch for his day.
Then the third kind of patriarch is the one we’re talking about today – the office of the Priesthood that has the keys to give patriarchal blessings.
While this is a calling, the person is not SET APART. They are actually ORDAINED, and like I said before, they will remain a patriarch until the end of their lives. If they become unable to give blessings, for health reasons, for example, then another patriarch can be ordained – but the first one remains a patriarch.
Now, onto the blessings that are given by patriarchs.
There are two parts to a patriarchal blessing. The first is a declaration of your lineage. We need to have a little history lesson to explain why this is important.
This year we’ve been studying the Old Testament. One of those stories is the prophet Jacob, also known as Israel. He made covenants with God that included the role of his descendants in the last days (that’s our time, remember?)
Jacob/Israel had 12 sons. We’re most familiar with his 11th son Joseph, who was sold by his brothers to be a slave in Egypt because they were jealous of him.
When Joseph and his brothers were reunited, they were known of as Israelites – the children of the prophet Israel. There were 12 sons, and each of their descendants formed the 12 tribes of Israel.
Now, one of those tribes, Levi, was the only tribe to hold the priesthood and have the keys to perform the sacrifices and work in the temple. The tribe of Levi kind of ended up being split up among all the other tribes.
That left 11 tribes, BUT Joseph (the Egypt one) had 2 sons named Ephraim and Manasseh. They received special blessings that separated them into their own tribes. So now there were 12 tribes again.
Each tribe received a special blessing from Israel (aka Jacob) that told about their individual responsibilities in the last days.
For example, the tribe of Ephraim is responsible for gathering those tribes back together again.
Over the last several thousand years, the tribes of Israel have been scattered across the world, which is what you’re learning in CFM.
Now, everyone in the world is either a literal descendant of Israel, or they’re not.
BUT the Lord calls the children of Israel His covenant people. As in, the people who make covenants with God.
At the time, everyone else worshiped multiple gods, and they are referred to in the scriptures as Gentiles. Only the Israelites worshiped the one, true God, and He only made covenants with them.
The Israelites often fell into sin, however, and they were regularly overpowered by Gentile nations and enslaved. They were taken away into other countries and scattered throughout the world and became known as the “lost” tribes of Israel.
When Christ was born, the only tribe that was even remotely whole was the tribe of Judah, as well as some Levites who knew their own lineage. The word “Jew” is short for Judah. And that has carried on into our modern times.
Other than if you have Jewish heritage, the rest of the tribes are lost throughout the world.
After Christ’s resurrection, permission was given to Peter (who was the leader of the Church at the time) to begin to share the gospel to the Gentiles and allow them to baptized, when before only the Jews were allowed to do so.
Nowadays, anyone – Jew or Gentile – can be baptized by priesthood authority. When you are baptized and make covenants with God, you become part of His covenant people, or one of the children of Israel!
If you aren’t a literal descendant of Israel, then you are adopted into one of the tribes.
And THIS is what it means when we say that the first part of a patriarchal blessing is to declare your lineage.
You’re told which of the 12 tribes you belong to! It doesn’t say whether or not you are literal or adopted, because in God’s eyes, it’s all the same.
And once you know your lineage, you can read and study about what your responsibilities are for that tribe.
You’ll find the majority of people are in the tribe of Ephraim. That’s because Ephraim needs to help gather all the others! The second most common is Mannasah.
But what tribe you’re in doesn’t have to be one of those two. I actually had a companion on the mission whose parents were from two different tribes, and then she had a sibling who was in a third tribe!
That’s pretty rare, but it can happen.
The important thing is that once you know that lineage, you can start to research into those responsibilities.
One great resource is an article in the January 1991 Ensign called “Of the House of Israel” by Daniel H. Ludlow. It goes more in-depth about being part of the descendants of Israel. I highly recommend you taking the time to read it.
What your lineage is is NOT so sacred that it can’t be shared. Basically, if you feel so inclined, you can share your lineage with other people that you feel compelled to share with.
Now, the second part of your patriarchal blessing IS more sacred and shouldn’t be shared lightly.
When you go in to receive your patriarchal blessing, the patriarch will actually record it, type it up, and submit it to Church headquarters! That’s how important and special it is. You’ll receive a copy of it, and if you ever lose it, you can request another copy be sent.
Isn’t that incredible?
Now, even though all patriarchal blessings are kept in the Church records, that doesn’t mean you can get access to anyone’s. But you CAN request the patriarchal blessing of an IMMEDIATE ancestor who has passed on if they received one.
You see, patriarchal blessings have been being given ever since Joseph Smith restored the Church. His father, Joseph Smith Sr., was ordained the first patriarch in 1834. At the time, since the Church was small, there was only one patriarch for all members!
Some of those early blessings were recorded with a scribe. The person then decided if they wanted the patriarch to keep an official record, which is now part of official Church records.
So some of your pioneer ancestors might have patriarchal blessings you can now read!
But why would you want to?
And what’s the big deal? Aren’t they just another blessing?
Guys, patriarchal blessings are SO much more than just a blessing!
They’re a window into your blueprint that you made in the pre-earth life.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “The patriarchal blessing is a line down the middle of the road. It shows you where to go. It shows each individual what his capabilities are, what the possibilities are.”
President Thomas S. Monson echoed those words when he said in the October 1996 General Conference, “A patriarchal blessing is a revelation to the recipient, even a white line down the middle of the road to protect, inspire, and motivate activity and righteousness. A patriarchal blessing literally contains chapters from your book of eternal possibilities. I say eternal, for just as life is eternal, so is a patriarchal blessing. What may not come to fulfillment in this life may occur in the next. We do not govern God’s timetable.”
Isn’t that incredible?
You are given a brief glimpse into that plan that you wrote out with Heavenly Father! The possibilities that can occur if you remain faithful and do your best to keep taking the right arrows!
Now, not every single thing in your life is going to be in that blessing.
I have severe Crohn’s disease, which has greatly affected my life. I’ve been admitted to the hospital over 40 times in the last decade.
I received a healing blessing from my husband one time that told me that my health would be the great trial of my life.
But you know what? My patriarchal blessing doesn’t say one word about my health or my body.
President Monson said, “Your patriarchal blessing is yours and yours alone. It may be brief or lengthy, simple or profound. Length and language do not a patriarchal blessing make… Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night. It will guide you through life’s dangers…. Your patriarchal blessing is to you a personal Liahona to chart your course and guide your way.”
It won’t hold everything in your life, but it WILL provide the exact counsel the Lord has to say to you.
I’ve known incredible, amazing people with very high callings in the Church who have said their blessings are only a few sentences long. Other people may have several pages.
When I was in the MTC, there was a fad going around where new missionaries would brag about their blessings, like having a long one somehow was a status thing.
I promise you, a patriarch is divinely inspired to say exactly what Heavenly Father needs you to know.
In the Priesthood Session of the October 2002 conference, President Boyd K. Packer gave a talk about patriarchs. He shared this experience:
“I once ordained a patriarch who was overcome with the responsibility. For months he could not get himself to give a blessing. Finally, he asked his stake president if he might write a paragraph as a model introduction to any patriarchal blessing. The stake president approved.
Later he told me this: ‘When the first young man came for a blessing, because I had memorized this prepared introduction, I felt comfortable. I laid my hands on his head, and I did not use one word of it. That day I learned whose blessings they are. They are not my blessings but are dictated by the Spirit’.”
And that’s why you only get one – because that one is all you need. Even if you’re just thirteen years old (which is how old I was), Heavenly Father gives you the glimpse into your blueprint to guide your life.
Now, remember when we talked about those blueprints at the very beginning? They’re flow charts with billions and billions of decisions of POSSIBILITIES.
And the choices that you make in this life will impact whether or not the things in your patriarchal blessing are fulfilled.
It’s isn’t a fortune teller telling your future.
Instead, it’s a road map – a guide. So when you get to a part of your path and you aren’t sure which arrow to choose, you can read it and get insight as to which direction you should head.
But sins that you commit can close off some of those possibilities.
For example, let’s say you get your patriarchal blessing when you are fourteen and it talks about going on a mission, and it’s pretty specific about it being a mission called by a prophet in your youth.
But then at sixteen, you break the Law of Chastity, and – depending on your gender – either you or your girlfriend gets pregnant.
That part of your patriarchal blessing won’t be fulfilled.
Does that mean the patriarch was wrong?
No, not at all.
It means that you used your agency in such a way that you completely and permanently closed off that entire section of your blueprint.
Can you repent?
But you can’t change the natural consequence of that action.
And you’re permanently altered your future.
That’s one reason why some commandments, like the Law of Chastity, are SUCH big deals.
Because to break those commandments can mean missing out entirely on incredible blessings and promises.
But what if you live your whole life trying to be worthy, and you still have parts that aren’t fulfilled?
For example, what if your patriarchal blessing talks about being married for eternity, but you never get married through no fault or choice of your own?
In the same talk by President Packer that I mentioned before, he says, “Sometimes someone will worry because a promise made in a patriarchal blessing is not yet fulfilled. … That does not mean that the blessing will go unfulfilled. It is well to know that things happen in the Lord’s due time, not always in ours. Things of an eternal nature have no boundaries. From the premortal existence to our existence beyond the veils of death, our life is an eternal life.”
Patriarchal blessings are meant to be a guide throughout this life to help us get to the next life with success. Not all the blessings will happen in this life, BUT knowing that they’re promised can help you as you make decisions.
President James E. Faust said in the October 1995 General Conference, ““A patriarchal blessing from an ordained patriarch can give us a star to follow, which is a personal revelation from God to each individual. If we follow this star, we are less likely to stumble and be misled. Our patriarchal blessing will be an anchor to our souls, and if we are worthy, neither death nor the devil can deprive us of the blessings pronounced. They are blessings we can enjoy now and forever.”
Even though these blessing are eternal, the guidance they provide are meant specifically for this life. That is why many people receive theirs as a teenager (although that definitely isn’t required).
It’s also why we don’t do patriarchal blessings for the dead. They are still going through their journey in the Spirit World, but their time on earth is done, which is when blessings are meant to be a guide.
Just as we don’t take the sacrament for the dead, because they don’t need that weekly reminder of covenants, they also don’t need help making choices in this life.
I am sure there are other resources in the Spirit World to help them there!
But what does this all mean for YOU?
If you haven’t received your patriarchal blessing yet, you can start preparing now.
The best way to prepare is to develop a closer relationship with the Lord. Prayer, fasting, scripture study, meditation, and repentance are the best way.
You should do this even if you don’t feel like you’re ready to get it yet.
The Holy Ghost can help guide you to know when you’re ready.
My parents were both in their late teens when they got theirs. When I was 12, I started feeling a desire to get mine.
Finally, my parents set an appointment with our branch president to ask him what he thought, because they thought I was much to young.
He told them that when kids start asking for theirs, it usually means they’re ready.
BUT the desire to receive a patriarchal blessing should come from a desire to know and live God’s will for you. Just being curious or getting pressure from others because they’re getting theirs isn’t the right reason to get a blessing.
The bishop will help determine if you are ready for the blessing.
And if you aren’t, it’s really okay!
You can still keep trying to get as close to Heavenly Father and Jesus as you can through prayer, scripture study, church, and making right choices.
Then when you are ready, your bishop will help you set an appointment to go. You’ll wear church clothes, and you’ll want to do things to help you feel the Spirit as much as possible, like listening to good and uplifting music on the drive.
Once you receive your blessing, you’ll get a physical or digital copy in a few weeks.
There may be things in it that seem confusing or don’t make sense. That’s okay!
You have a WHOLE LIFETIME to read and explore your patriarchal blessing!
There were things in it that I didn’t understand until years later.
And honestly, there are still things I don’t fully know how they’ll apply.
But again, that’s okay.
Just like you don’t read the Book of Mormon one time and you’re done, the same goes for your patriarchal blessing.
You should read it regularly. And I mean like once a month regularly.
Whenever you feel confused about something, or you’re overwhelmed or unsure, pull it out and read it.
Each time you read it, the Holy Ghost will point out things in it to you in ways that you may never have noticed.
I feel like I practically have mine memorized, but there are times where it’s like I’m reading a sentence for the first time.
And sometimes you might think you know what something means, but it may turn out to be fulfilled in an entirely different way.
For example, if your blessing talks about furthering your education, that might mean college, or it might mean other ways of learning and growth, like trade school, institute programs, or even personal learning and growth.
Because a patriarchal blessing is SO individual, it’s like scripture that was written JUST for you.
But because it is so special, it needs to be treated as such. It’s between you and Heavenly Father. You might share your blessing with family members or someone else who is close to you, but you shouldn’t talk about it lightly or casually, and it should never be compared with someone else’s.
In the end, a patriarchal blessing is a special gift from Heavenly Father. He is letting you have a peek at your flowchart, your blueprint of your life, with all the different possibilities that are available to you based on your willingness to listen to the Spirit and make right choices.
My patriarchal blessing has been a tremendous asset in my life in trying to follow the path that goes back to Heavenly Father and the Celestial Kingdom, and I know it can be for you as well.
I hope this podcast was able to answer the questions many of you have sent in about patriarchal blessings. If not, please feel free to reach out to me again, and I’ll do my best to help answer more!
And next time, we’re going to talk about judging others. That’s a big thing right now: “don’t judge me!” But should we make judgments? And if so, why and how?
We’ll talk about it next time! I’ll see y’all then.